By: Karen Kroll
QBS Group, a network of Microsoft Dynamics partners headquartered in the city of Leusden, The Netherlands, has grown to nearly 400 Dynamics partners across seventeen countries since 2013. It now carries the official title of Value Add SMB Distributor for Microsoft Dynamics, and the company has new plans for expansion and further evolution.
“We see ourselves as a 2.0 distributor,” says Nelson Tavares da Silva, vice president of business development.
QBS has been on a roll for several years. It signed a Master VAR agreement with Microsoft in May 2013 with a focus on Dynamics NAV customers and partners. By November of that year, QBS was working with sixty Dynamics partners across five European countries. By June of 2014, QBS had 100 partners. That number doubled by February of 2015, and then jumped to 300 partners by May of 2016, and it continues to climb.
Since its start in 2013, the company has changed from a Master VAR into an aggregator for the delivery of business applications based on the Microsoft platform across hundreds of technology service providers As part of that change, QBS has recently decided to open its network to Dynamics CRM and Office 365 partners.
“We have an ecosystem in which ERP, CRM, and Office 365 partners can work together,” says Richard de Goederen, European partner recruitment lead. Partners looking for an expert in any one of the Microsoft solutions, as well as those interested in a one-stop shop that can deliver multiple solutions, will find it in QBS, he says.
“Our DNA is in business applications and in adding value to partners in the business application space,” de Goederen says. The company’s revenue comes from a combination of licensing margins, fees for services, and service level agreements.
Unlike some other Dynamics partners who work with multiple vendors, QBS works exclusively with Microsoft. “We’re not here for volume, but for value-added services,” da Silva says.
Many partners who work with QBS have done well. “One of the key metrics how we measure our performance is the number of licenses and the customer add growth”, da Silva says. These statistics show that partners on the average grow significantly faster after they’ve joined QBS’s network, he says. “We help them perform better in marketing, licensing, and lead generation.”
QBS has also taken a financial stake in two businesses. It invested in Dynasource, a partner-to-partner talent-sharing platform based in Amsterdam that helps companies find Microsoft professionals able to provide expertise and skills for that their projects. The founder of Dynasource is a founder of QBS, da Silva says. QBS partners can use Dynasource to identify and hire individuals with Microsoft and IT skills, he adds.
QBS’s parent company, The IT Channel Company (TICC), recently announced a new strategic partnership and ownership stake in Dynamics 365/CRM services and development firm MindsUnited.
As talks between the two companies continue, QBS will work with its current partners to bring the success it’s achieved in the ERP space to CRM and Office 365. “We’ve already proved we can grow (partners’) numbers in ERP, and we want to do the same in CRM and Dynamics,” da Silva says.
QBS is also a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). The CSP program supports a new licensing model for cloud solutions including Dynamics 365 and Office 365. While partners can work directly with Microsoft to deploy the CSP model themselves, many will choose to work through a network like QBS, da Silva says. The reason? Partners that work directly with their clients will have to have in place the infrastructure required for this business model. That may mean investing in, for instance, billing systems. Partners that work with a network like QBS can avoid some of that investment. “We take away the up-front investment,” de Goederen says.
Also in 2016, Microsoft announced AppSource. End customers can use the site to select and (in some cases) deploy add-ons for use with their core business solutions. Again, however, partners who want to bring an app to market need to be ready to provide ongoing management of the AppSource deployment process, de Goederen says. “We can help with marketing and in delivering the solution to the end customer.”